Cincinnati Reds have more work to do on the rotation than one might believe

Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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Despite a strong second half, the Cincinnati Reds lack enough starting pitching for 2017.

Given the difficulty in the Cincinnati Reds’ rotation last year, it is easy to be optimistic about the results of the second half.  The rotation down the stretch may be able to hold things together in 2017.  That doesn’t mean that it is a good rotation, though.

In starting pitching rankings using game scores, none of the Reds starting pitchers were in the top 50.  By comparison the four starters who made post-season starts for the Chicago Cubs were all in the top 15 at the end of the season.  This is how far the Reds have to move to get to contention.

The Reds’ best pitcher in 2016, Dan Straily, ranked 58th.  That is the equivalent of a weak number two pitcher.  Straily was going into spring training the number two starter for the Reds, before they sent him to the Miami Marlins.

The other home run king, Brandon FInnegan, ranked 85th.  That is a weak number three starter.  That is how the Reds currently view Finnegan, so the team is fine there.

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The real issue is the lack of a number one starter and the status of Anthony DeSclafani as one.  DeSclafani was coming off an injury, so maybe his length wasn’t what it could have been.  The issue is that he is grading out as a number four starter, not an ace.

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The other pitcher that started strong down the stretch is Tim Adleman.  He is an afterthought for the front office, but he is a legitimate big league number five starter.  This is a situation the Red Sox found themselves in two years ago.

The Cincinnati Reds have several pitchers who could step up to be number one starters in 2017.

The first pitcher to look at is the prospect that he been penciled into the Reds’ rotation as an ace since he was drafted, Robert Stephenson.

Stephenson ended the season ranked as the 219th big league starter.  That is not as bad as it might sound, but it does speak to how far the young pitcher has to climb.

Stephenson had a couple of issues in the second half of last season.  The primary one was his inability to go long into games.  If he can limit his pitch count to get deeper into games, he may be able to climb into respectability.

The other obvious solution is Homer Bailey.  He ranked 229, but he was injured the entire season.  He is a career number two starter, but making number one money for the Reds.

The intriguing pitcher was recently claimed Tyrell Jenkins.  He was ranked just below Bailey is the rankings, but he has solid stuff.  Jenkins’ issue is that his WHIP is too high to be competitive in the big leagues.  Unfortunately, the San Diego Padres just claimed him.

Next: The Reds prospects to watch for in 2017

The Reds have reason to be hopeful, but the hope cannot precede the work.  The front office needs to plan for a worst case scenario. New arrival Scott Feldman doesn’t qualify as that.